The Office of Special Programs-College Prep (OSP-CP) is one of two college readiness programs operating under the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago.
Since its inception more than 50 years ago as a federally-funded TRIO Upward Bound program, our mission has been to help change patterns of academic inequity and increase achievement for all students.
To accomplish these goals, the OSP-CP works alongside middle and high-school educators, advocates, and college leaders to identify effective ways to provide all students with access to a high-quality education that prepares them for career opportunities and the demands of the world outside the classroom.
The OSP-CP was founded by the late Larry Hawkins, Ph.D, a pioneer in educational enrichment and an advocate for disadvantaged urban youth. In 1984, he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni award from George Williams College and, shortly before his death in 2009, Hawkins received the Diversity Leadership Award from the University of Chicago's Diversity Leadership Council.
Larry Hawkins’ extraordinary life as an athlete, coach, teacher, mentor, educational innovator, and historian continues to be an inspiration to the many lives he touched. There are many distinguished graduates of the programs Hawkins designed, including Carol Moseley Braun, the first African-American woman to become a U.S. Senator.
This section of our website is currently a work in progress! Please check back soon to learn more about our program offerings.
Academic Enrichment Classes
Our students attend weekly academic-enrichment classes on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. October through May.
During these classes, students are learning core academic content, writing their college application essays, and learning about and completing the college application process. This includes making a list of safety, match, and reach schools and learning about different types of application essays and colleges and what they have to offer.
Our classes are aimed at making sure our students are excelling in high school and that they understand and are ready for college when that time comes.
The OSP-CP offers after-school tutoring to students currently enrolled in at least one of our programs. Our areas of focus include reading language arts, mathematics, languages, science, and history. Tutor matching is based on academic needs and areas of expertise.
After attending tutoring sessions, our students leave with improved organization, time management, and planning skills as well as with improved standardized test scores.
To learn more and schedule a tutoring session, please visit the OSP Tutor Match page at https://osp-cp.uchicago.edu/tutor-match
The OSP-CP annually hosts the Kovler Foundation Larry Hawkins Career Conference for High School Students in the summer. This conference helps students explore different career paths through panels, demonstrations, and one-on-one conversations with professionals in over 10 fields.
This event will help students develop a plan to guide them in selecting and pursuing a career that fits their unique combination of passion, skills, and values.
Student Testimonials - Naa Ashitey
University of Chicago second-year Naa Ashitey says that she always knew she would go to college — but she wasn’t always sure how she would get there, or how she would afford it. As a high school student living in Woodlawn, Ashitey was eligible for the Upward Bound program. OSP helped connect her with a full-ride QuestBridge scholarship.
Student Testimonials - Jasmeen Wellere
An Upward Bound student from 2008-2012, Jasmeen went on to attend SIU–Edwardsville and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
When reflecting on her time at the OSP, she says her years on The University of Chicago campus as a high school student helped her expand her horizons, understand college culture, meet and interact with people from different backgrounds, and create a plan for herself - all of which contributed to her success in college and graduate school.
We offer two programs: Upward Bound and the Space Explorers Program in partnership with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. Both are multi-year enrichment programs.
Program activities are provided year-round and give students access to academic support in the form of tutorials, homework assistance, skills enrichment, academic and career advising, college entrance exam preparation, financial application assistance, and diverse cultural experiences.
Our primary academic emphasis is on English language arts, science, mathematics, and financial literacy.
To learn more and apply, please scroll down to your program of interest.
Students We Serve
Currently, the Upward Bound program serves 118 9th- through 10th-grade students from Walter H. Dyett High School for The Arts, Hirsch Metro, Hyde Park, and Wendell Phillips Academy as well as students who live in the Douglas, Greater Grand Crossing, Washington Park, or Woodlawn communities.
Our second program, the Space Explorers Program run in partnership with Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), serves 9th- and 10th-grade Chicago Public Schools students.
The Office of Special Programs-College Prep offers Upward Bound programming at the following partner schools:
Hirsch Metropolitan High School
7740 South Ingleside Avenue
Chicago, IL 60619
OSP-CP Partner since 1990
Hyde Park Academy High School
6220 South Stony Island Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
OSP-CP Partner since 1980
Walter H. Dyett High School For The Arts
555 East 51st Street
Chicago, IL 60615
OSP-CP Partner since 2012
Wendell Phillips Academy High School
244 East Pershing Road
Chicago, IL 60653
OSP-CP Partner since 2004
Upward Bound Programming
UChicago Upward Bound is a federally funded program that supports first-generation, low-income, underserved and under-represented 9th- to 12th-grade students in select neighborhoods and schools as they prepare for, apply to, and enroll in college. 100% of participants graduate from high school and are accepted into a college.
Upward Bound participants are involved for four years in programming. Each year begins with a six-week summer collection of activities designed to give students early and rigorous exposure to the core subjects they will take in the upcoming academic year. The program continues throughout the year with tutorials Monday through Thursday and Saturday academic enrichment.
The OSP-CP's Upward Bound programming offers extra-curricular programming designed to help high school students prepare for a successful education and career.
Upward Bound is part of TRiO, a group of federally-funded, pre-college opportunity programs. TRiO programs seek to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in their pursuit of a college degree.
To apply, please visit our Apply page.
Academic enrichment activities are held from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturdays from October through May. After-school tutorials are held from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Additional workshops and seminars on college, financial aid, and career research and planning are held throughout the year.
All OSP-CP activities are designed to teach core academic content, address student readiness for college, and help students and parents understand the college and financial aid application and admissions process.
Upward Bound enrichment activities take students around the city and country to visit colleges and other cultural attractions. Students may attend plays and musicals and visit museums, art galleries, and national monuments. Past field trips have included Orchestra Hall, Symphony Hall in St. Louis, the Lyric Opera House, Fermilab, and the Argonne National Laboratory.
For six weeks during the summer, there will be programming. Students attend academic classes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and participate in field trips, enrichment activities, and testing on Fridays. This programming provides opportunities for students to live on campus while they attend classes.
• Mathematics (Basic Math, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus)
• Science (General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
• Test Preparation
• Computer Technology
Parent involvement is mandatory for all OSP-CP programs. Parents must attend Parent University and monthly information sessions. They must also participate in workshops, seminars, and college and scholarship application processes.
Space Explorers Program
The Space Explorers Program is a free multi-year science enrichment program led by the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement in partnership with the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP). The program, which is open to 9th- and 10th-grade Chicago Public Schools students, gives participants the opportunity to interact with University faculty, staff, students, and labs; engage with college-level math, science, and computer science course work; take part in industry and lab tours; meet and work with astronomers and physicists; and develop skills for high school, college, and beyond.
In addition, the Office of Civic Engagement provides participants with access to a full suite of college readiness and access programming and partners with other UChicago units to create supplemental avenues for STEM engagement throughout the year.
To apply, please visit our Apply page.
UChicago Promise is the University of Chicago’s multi-pronged initiative designed to help students and families throughout the City of Chicago gain admission to, pay for, and thrive in college. With UChicago Promise, the University of Chicago offers resources and special scholarships to help guide students in the city of Chicago to selective four-year institutions.Learn more